Revenge of the Creature 3D Blu-ray Review

The Pre-Blackfish Blackfish

Continuing Universal’s brand of anti-science horror, Creature from the Black Lagoon’s sequel finds the Gill Man pulled from his home in an Amazon tributary and dunked into a Florida aquarium. Things don’t go well.

It’s a monster movie. Of course the Gill Man escapes and runs down patrons of this Sea World-like park. He kidnaps Revenge of the Creature’s female lead, Lori Nelson, to set up the damsel routine. There’s even a sequence copying the famed swim from the first film, if without its elegance.

That’s the routine. Where that breaks is in the scientific experiments, attempting to understand what Gill Man is and to control his behavior. That’s done with John Agar stabbing Gill Man with a cattle prod. That’s cruel. There’s genuine empathy for this monster, chained to the bottom of a pool, forced to endure daily shock treatments. Science can’t leave well enough alone. Cue rampage.

Revenge of the Creature inserts morality dialog, questioning if humans needed to return to the Amazon at all. Agar even questions the shock prodding, sympathetic to the pain he’s causing, if coerced by his professional drive. It’s that rare monster movie to drive on something more than mere thrills and terror.

Once on Universal’s rails, concerns over animal captivity and the cruelness of acquiring knowledge slip away

The faults lean back on pacing. A stubborn romance between Agar and Nelson isn’t any deeper than needed to make Agar lead the charge when Nelson’s kidnapped. Dry moments advertise the aquarium (Marineland of Florida, still open as of 2018) by showing their dolphin shows. Labs operate with traditional screen aesthetics of beakers and syringes, if adding nothing to the Gill Man’s lore.

Frankly, Revenge of the Creature is all too often a plodding bore. Although entertaining action suggests absurd strength of this aquatic missing link – tossing one poor sucker into a tree – those interesting, subversive ideas give way to a predictable monster on the loose romp. Take out the water and Gill Man turns into Universal’s Mummy, wandering about, looking for victims.

Formula worked for Universal’s monsters though. It’s no wonder this series, the last of the line, doesn’t fade from establishment. Giving all of the police flashlights in the final act is even equivalent to the torch-carrying mobs visiting Frankenstein’s castle. Once on Universal’s rails, concerns over animal captivity and the cruelness of acquiring knowledge slip away. That small acknowledgment was still ahead-of-its-time cinema however, distinctive as possible considering the monster movie framework.

Video

The first time Universal issued Revenge of the Creature to Blu-ray, that disc was recalled. The 3D disc came from an SD source. Now re-issued, this ranks as one of the lesser pieces to the Universal Monsters Complete Collection set.

Most of the print skews far too soft. A few scenes with standout sharpness become the anomaly. Lagging fidelity dominates, with muddy scenery. Textural elements sink (ironically, considering) and grain clogs the images, rather than support them. It’s one thing for the underwater scenery to draw in haze; it’s another when the above water scenes look all too similar.

This isn’t processing. Revenge of the Creature doesn’t come under fire from noise reduction. Even after the “fix,” this still looks like a primarily SD source.

Gray scale helps establish contrast. Depth is pleasing, the best attribute of this presentation. Black is reached to a satisfying tier, helping the nighttime finale. During daylight, sun beams down, mixing in highlights. That looks great.

The 3D image (the first time available at home) doesn’t use that same tier of contrast. It’s not the glasses causing dimness, or at least not to this degree. Pure white in 2D sinks into a gray, limiting scale if still maintaining dimension. Note the other qualms with softness carry over too.

That aside, Revenge of the Creature delights in 3D. Underwater scenery pops out with all manner of debris passing by the lens. Agar pushes a prod toward the camera, and the Gill Man swims forward, reaching for viewers. Fall-in creates outstanding depth. Attention to foreground objects further adds to the sights with aggressive push.

A few shots do pass with what looks like no actual 3D applied. They go by quickly, stick out, and then Revenge of the Creature returns to its glorious, intense ‘50s 3D.

Audio

Eventually recycled in numerous Universal movies afterward, the fantastic score breathes wonderfully when encoded by this mono DTS-HD track. Highs and lows successfully hit their marks, suffering no distortion and minimal age.

Dialog is faultless. Free of hiss or popping, audio work preserves this audio with no issues.

Extras

Actress Lori Nelson joins historians Tom Weaver and Bob Burns in an enjoyable commentary. Note Revenge of the Creature shares disc space with the follow-up, The Creature Walks Among Us.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Revenge of the Creature
  • Video
  • Video (3D)
  • Audio
  • Extras

Movie

Using the Gill Man to make a statement on animal captivity, Revenge of the Creature quickly turns into a rudimentary monster effort.

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